I’d just like to start things off by being perfectly up-front with where I fit into this whole issue, personally. I’m 5’6”, 139-144 pounds (depending on the day/ hour/ scale), and wear a size 6 on top and 8/10 on the bottom. There are blemishes and flaws on my body, but I’m healthy and comfortable. I’m very happy with it and so is the person that has to look at it naked, so that’s about the end of that conversation. And it would be so, so awesome if it could end there. But it can’t — it never can, not with what your body looks like.
The thing is, I’ve never thought too much about my body. I think we all have moments where we stand in front of a mirror and idly poke ourselves in the tummy pooch as we suck it back in and let it out–benign little movements that I’m sure apes would make if they had access to a mirror. And yes, there have been occasions (like the time I was at my heaviest, and couldn’t fit into my favorite dress) where I suddenly felt very conscious about how my body looked and felt. But looking back, I think a lot of that stemmed from the lazy, apathetic lifestyle that was letting the Oreos so wantonly stick to my thighs. With a normal amout of activity and relative sensibility with what I eat, I stay in pretty decent shape.
But I freely accept that there are people for whom the same amount of activity and attention to diet will yield a much thinner figure, and those for whom a lifetime of celery and pilates will never quite shake the lovehandles. I don’t take any credit for the fact that I’m thinner than some people are — I certainly don’t work that hard for what I have. This is just what my body looks like. We’re all just built a little differently. And yet society at large seems to have such a hard time grasping that, specifically that Temple of the Waif, the fashion industry. (You can’t see it now, but I’m shaking my fist and telling Marc Jacobs to get off my lawn before I spray him with the garden hose.)
And because of this, because of our insane obsession with people who happen to be thinner (or force themselves to be through a life of never knowing Nutella, God help them), we have somehow managed to concoct words that we can use to “address” the “interesting beauty” of a woman any bigger than, say, Adriana Lima. The women are “plus-sized” “ample” “heavy-set” or “plush.” The words that the fashion industry, popular culture, and even individuals use to gently describe a size-14, perfectly appealing woman are so dripping with patronizing disdain, I imagine an incredibly difficult mother receiving a sweater she particularly dislikes for Christmas: “Oh, well, isn’t this just lovely? It’s just darling.”
And no word amongst these Hallmark-approved euphemisms for heavy so grates against my ears as “curvy,” possibly the most corrupted word in the English language. Frankly, I can’t remember what that word actually meant originally. (I think it was a line that’s not straight or something, have to Google.) In any case, it’s now become used to describe any woman between Angelina Jolie and that mother on the Discovery Channel that had to have the wall cut off of her apartment to be able to leave it. It just became a catch-all, I suppose, because it sounds nice and inoffensive, and we have to designate that anything in possession of small mounds of fat under its skin with special terms.
I don’t take offense to this personally, morally, or ethically. I take offense to it intellectually, because it’s condescending as shit. If we all have to imagine what “curvy” looks like in our minds, I think we’d come up with Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardashian, or Adele. Women with bigger busts, proportionally smaller waists, and wide hips. A curvy line. She can be any actual size or weight, but I’m pretty sure these are the proportions that designate “curvy.” Think “Coke-bottle.” But because, in a rush to make everyone feel good and put a band-aid on the bullet wound of no women over a size 2 in an advertisement, we needed a quick fix word — we settled on curvy. But there are tons of words for all different shapes and figures, figures that are all nice and have their ups and downs. Very thin women can be curvy, as well, but you’d never think to call them that. Now, curvy is almost a negative word — because we associate it with the “Eesh, yeah, well you can still be beautiful, I guess! Good try!” attitude of the fashion industry. Curvy is a word to placate, it’s a euphemism, and frankly it’s highly unnecessary.
Despite the fact that she represents, for me, several consecutive signs of the apocalypse — I have to hand it to Kim Kardashian. We praise models and actresses all the time for how hard it must be to stay so incredibly thin, even for that bikini photoshoot 48 hours after their C-section–that I get. Whatever. But forget how hard it is to just stay really thin, do we realize how unbelievably hard it is to have big boobs, a big butt, wide hips — AND a toned stomach and no cellulite?!?! How does KK do it?! I picture a Mr. Peanut-shaped pressure chamber that she sleeps in every night to get just the right smoothe, ample proportions — but I digress.
The point is, she and women much bigger than her have their own struggles to maintain pretty bodies and be attractive to their own personal standard. They work hard and keep healthy, and they find clothes that look good on them and style their hair in interesting ways and do all the stuff that skinny people do. And I assure you, plenty of people around the world — plenty of sexy, interesting, wonderful people — would totally have sex with said bigger women. There is no need to talk down to them — to us — with cheesy buzz words that only serve to further separate and distinguish the sexies from the fatties. I don’t need to be called curvy, Kelly Clarkson doesn’t need to be called curvy, Gabourey Sidibe doesn’t need to be called curvy.
“Normal human being who might want to buy some clothes at some point” would do just fine.